- Size: 12.5′ x 18′
- Scale: N
- Minimum Mainline Radius: 16″
- Minimum Aisle Width: 30″
- Designed by Dan Bourque
Deepwater, WV is a tiny town in the middle of West Virginia, but it was home to three major railroads: the C&O, NYC and Virginian. The C&O’s mainline through the coal fields between Charleston, WV and Hinton ran along the south bank of the Kanawha River through Deepwater, and the New York Central hugged the north bank of the Kanawha on its way from Charleston to Gauley Bridge, WV and the Nicholas, Fayette & Greenbrier (NF&G) coal field it shared with the C&O. Deepwater was the western terminus of the Virginian’s mainline, and a good portion of its coal, along with a modest amount of through freight, went to the C&O at Deepwater and the NYC across the river at DB Tower.
This layout is really an industrial switching layout disguised as an Appalachian coal-hauling layout. The aforementioned interchanges are all present, but the layout’s centerpiece is the giant silicon alloy plant adjacent to the NYC mainline across the Kanawha River. According to an online source, this silicon alloy plant provides 30% of the US’ silicon alloys. To get most of the plant in, it’s offset at an angle with many tracks stubbing into the wall–this allows much of the switching in a fraction of the space. About 80% of the plant’s trackage is represented.
The rest of the layout captures the Virginian’s interchange with the C&O and NYC including the elaborate series of bridges the Virginian used to cross a highway, the C&O and the Kanawha River. The C&O line is dummy track (stub ended), but a C&O hopper train with blue and yellow engines could be set on the main to represent the railroad, but the NYC tracks are connected to staging on the Dickinson/Charleston, WV end. The double-ended staging yard, reached via two short helixes, represents both the Virginian and NYC and allows for continuous running (the Virginian actually had trackage rights over the NYC to Dickinson).
The layout was designed to leave a lot of open space in the middle to allow the room to be used for other purposes, but the modeler with more space could easily connect one end of the C&O to a staging yard and use a peninsula in the middle to make the NYC a complete loop.
Operations would vary in intensity depending on whether this layout is operated as a Virginian- or N&W-era layout. In the Virginian era, a good number of trains would be interchanging at Deepwater and DB Tower. In the N&W, most non-coal traffic and coal from anwhere east of Elmore would likely find a different routing with only 1-2 trains daily to Deepwater. In either era, this layout could easily keep 2 operators hopping with one operating the VGN and NYC and the other running the plan switcher.
Virginian operations would consist of transfer runs originating in staging. Almost all the interchange traffic went to the NYC (the VGN and C&O primarily used their connection at Gilbert, WV for western traffic). To access the yard at DB Tower (Alloy), the VGN would back across the Kanawha River Bridge. They could either use the small yard at Deepwater alongside the C&O to turn their train or turn at Page and run the last few miles to Deepwater cab first (I recommend the former instead of pushing up the helix from staging). After turning the train at Deepwater, and perhaps setting off a couple of cars for the C&O, the VGN crew would head back toward the mainline past the switch to the bridge and back through the tunnel and across the bridge to the yard. Last night’s traffic from the NYC would be waiting for them to grab and take back to staging after switching the cab. A small loader was located behind the silicon alloy plant and worked off-and-on by the N&W, and presumably the Virginian prior (it also shipped by barge). The loader’s in/out tracks can be represented by the short VGN stub tracks running into the backdrop to add some extra switching, perhaps even using a different train to do the work.
The NYC’s job would be to run interchange traffic from Dickinson to DB Tower and to work the yard, setting off and picking up traffic for the silicon alloy plant. Additionally, the NYC could switch the pulpwood industry at DB Tower. I’m not sure exactly what was processed here, but photos reveal a conveyor loader (woodchips?) and stacks of pulpwood. At least a couple of trains would be needed daily to handle all the traffic and switching.
The plant switcher would have a LOT of work to do. I will confess, I have no idea how silicon alloys are made, but photos of the plant reveal a mix of boxcars, open hoppers laden with sand and coal, and covered hoppers. From a recent aerial photo, the switcher appears to be a GE 70-tonner, but further research is needed to determine what they used in other eras. This crew would spend its day moving around a couple dozen cars to and from the various tracks and buildings.
Coal traffic and industrial switching living together–if that’s you’re thing, then I think you’ll like this plan!
Things I Like About this Plan:
- Relatively uncompressed
- 4 railroads on one layout
- Neat scenery with a big river, steep hillsides and lots of bridges
- Silicon alloy plant is modeled near scale with big buildings
Things I Don’t Like About this Plan:
- Inefficient use of space (only one small area modeled)
- C&O and some NYC tracks stub off end of layout instead of operational